Back to the Basics: Is Hotel Wi-Fi an Amenity or a Necessity?
Hotels may debate over which amenities to offer at their property, but travelers agree: the one they want most is hotel Wi-Fi. A Hotels.com survey determined that over half of all hotel customers wish free wireless internet was available at all hotels. TripAdvisor confirms this finding, stating 46% of travelers would specifically book a different hotel if their first choice didn’t offer complimentary hotel Wi-Fi.
These customer bases are too high to ignore. Internet has become a utility, like hot water or electricity, rather than an optional service. Guests have online access everywhere, from fast food restaurants to bus stops. It only makes sense that a place travelers are spending a third of their day (or more) should offer Wi-Fi as well, especially since hotels can use this access to their advantage during a guest’s stay as well.
Even as travelers become more reliant on hotel Wi-Fi, many hotels still hold-out on offering it as a standard amenity. Internet access is a huge revenue stream for many hotels as well as a significant expense. So how do hotels meet this customer expectation without going bankrupt?
Level the Playing Field
Several hotels split the difference by offering some Wi-Fi access for free while offering options to upcharge. Paid premium access is one way to allow general browsing to most guests while providing the higher speeds necessary for streaming videos or uploading large files on an optional basis. Other hotels provide free access to a limited number of devices and may charge a nominal amount if the whole family wants to connect their phones and surf simultaneously.
Get a Sponsor
When charging for access, guests expect reliable, usable speeds even if they might be satisfied with a slower connection for free. Therefore, properties might want to look into providing internet in a way the customer views as free. Can costs be offset by playing an advertisement before connecting? Are there ways for a hotel to get extra value from guest information before providing complimentary Wi-Fi? Requiring a short survey, social media share, or newsletter subscription might be options to experiment with.
Strike a Compromise
Lastly, tried and true cost-cutting tactics might still make sense. To make room in the budget for internet, some properties might remove other amenities that previously came free. If the majority of travelers pack mobile devices, some hotels might find it’s no longer necessary to include movie channels or phone service.
Whether they’re connecting to meet work deadlines or to update their friends or family on social media, many guests consider Wi-Fi to be a necessity. Even if charging for wireless internet still makes sense for your property, this is a discussion that should be revisited frequently. Technology shifts lifestyles (and travel styles) quickly and hotels need to be able to adapt to meet guests’ needs and preferences.